The Great Gatsby Essay

I. Task: Using the multi-paragraph format, you will write a character analysis of a character from The Great Gatsby, including: Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, George Wilson, and Myrtle Wilson.

The major character trait you have chosen for subject will be your central idea. You will brainstorm many of these, including, but not limited to: insecurity, fearfulness, timidity, introversion, self-loathing, to confidence, ego, braveness, etc.

It is imperative that you learn everything possible about your character and how they relate to specific circumstances or individuals to write a complete analysis.

Form for your essay: Your essay needs an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

A. Your introduction: A good introduction attracts the reader’s attention, includes basic information about the novel, states the central idea of your essay, and provides direction for the reader as to how you will go about developing your essay.

1. You need to create a lead-in, which attracts the reader’s attention and sparks interest, a desire to read your essay.

2. After presenting a general lead-in to your central idea, you must make the transition to the use of this idea in your essay.

You must include

  • the name of the novel and the author
  • your central idea (the character trait you see surfacing in your character)
  • a thesis statement: (It lets the reader know the nature and order of your subtopics of development. It is important to include it because it does serve a purpose and tends to keep the inexperienced writer on topic and organized).

B. Body Paragraphs: These develop the subtopics you have chosen to demonstrate the character trait. Whichever type of organization you have chosen — grouping according to the methods of character revelation or by scene or by some combination– each body paragraph should have a clear topic sentence, so that a method of organization is evident. Each should use clear and accurate detail from the text. You need to explain what is happening in the scene and who is involved, creating context for your example. Remember, if you are using methods of character revelation as an organizing tool and are only focusing one method of character revelation from the scene, you still need to give detail about the scene involved, who is present and what is happening. With either method of organization, you also need to interpret detail to shape it to your point, having the character trait surface. You should use at least TWO properly presented and documented quotation in your body paragraphs.

C. Conclusion: Consider speculating upon the possible consequences of what you have shown you’re your character. It would be interesting to see how accurate you might be. OR you could explain how the trait and the impact of what you have shown relates to a context outside the novel, your own life or the world about you.

Writing the lead-in for your essay

You could speculate on the nature of the trait you pose:

Most of us feel insecure at times or in certain situations. We may feel uncomfortable when meeting new people or when the spotlight of a moment is turned upon us. We feel vulnerable, isolated. However, for most of these are only moments in life and not the usual environment in which we live. The moments end. We regain our sense security and self.

You could pose a question for the reader and then proceed to answer it:

When was the last time you felt fear? Maybe you were afraid of being punished for something you had done or maybe a situation at school suddenly erupted into violence and you felt that flash, that bolt of fear down your spine. Fear is a natural response to a tense situation or potential danger; however, when it becomes a general reaction to the world around you, perhaps something is very wrong.

You could create a brief scene for the reader, which shows the power of the trait on an individual: When I was twelve I remember an argument my parents had. I do not remember all the details or the issues involved. I only remember the impact of insecurity it produced as I watched that which I considered my world, my family, falling away.

Example Introduction from Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye:

When I was twelve I remember an argument my parents had. I do not remember all the details or the issues involved. I only remember the impact of insecurity it produced as I watched that which I considered my world, my family, falling away. In my mind I see brief yet hurtful images — my mother, drunken and angry, storming away into the night, threatening to take the car and leave; A memory of my father, letting the air out of the tires of the family car; Screaming voices finally cutting a path to sleep as I become too exhausted to follow the aftermath of the argument I do not understand; my father telling me to change the car tire in the morning and me feeling that that is not really enough to fix the family. This distant memory was a first taste of insecurity for me, a brief earthquake that roared through the stability of my family. In The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Pecola, a young girl who briefly touches the life the narrator, Claudia, is depicted as a girl devastatingly insecure about her place in the world. Several scenes involving both her family and those she encounters outside her family illustrate this young girl’s overwhelming sense of insecurity

See the following rubric:

Indicator/Point Value


Instructor Comments

Indicator: Essay analyzes one of the characters demonstrating an understanding of the novel.

Point Value: 35

  • Essay clearly chooses one character.
  • Essay reflects an understanding of the plot line of the novel.
  • Essay reflects an understanding of the role of the character in the novel.
  • Essay demonstrates an understanding of the themes present in the novel.
  • At least one character trait is identified for the chosen character and that trait is analyzed in the body of the essay.
  • Little summary is provided and a clear analysis of the character trait or traits for chosen character is the primary focus of the essay.

Indicator: Essay maintains clear formatting and sensitivity to emotional impact

Point Value: 35

  • Essay contains a clear introduction, 5 body paragraphs, and conclusion paragraph
  • Thesis statement is clear and reflects the prompt provided
  • Introduction includes both the thesis and an introduction to the rest of the essay.
  • Body paragraphs support the thesis with specific textual evidence cited correctly according to MLA formatting.
  • Conclusion summarizes key points throughout the essay
  • Paragraphs contain a minimum of four sentences each

Indicator: Essay maintains correct formatting.

Point Value: 15

  • 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font
  • Double spaced
  • One inch margins
  • All textual evidence is cited appropriately (according to MLA format).
  • MLA formatted Works Cited page

Indicator: Essay demonstrates correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Point Value: 15

  • Essay is free of spelling or word use errors.
  • Essay is free of run-on sentences or sentence fragments.
  • Sentence structure varies to include simple, compound, complex, and compound/complex.
  • All punctuation is used appropriately.
  • All proper nouns and the beginnings of sentences are capitalized appropriately.
  • All other standard English grammar, punctuation, and spelling are followed.

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